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We can cut crime !!

January 22, 2007 6:00 PM
Sir Ming Campbell discusses crime issues

Sir Ming Campbell discusses crime issues

Today the Liberal Democrats have launched a nationwide campaign to cut crime. At the centre of the campaign are the party's Five Steps to a Safer Britain. This campaign has been launched because public fears and concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour remain very high. Even in low crime areas, many people are worried about their safety, often thanks to sensationalist reporting in the media and breathless rhetoric from government ministers.

Cllr David Goodall with the Police at 3am after an evenings patrol with Dave & Rich still smiling

Cllr David Goodall with the Police at 3am after an evenings patrol

The problem is the ministers bark has always remained a lot worse than their bite. The Liberal Democrat on the other hand have bite with our five steps that will start the road to a safer Britain and they are :-

  • 1. More police on patrol - don't waste billions on ID cards
  • 2. Compulsory work and training in prison to cut re-offending
  • 3. Better compensation for victims paid for by prison work
  • 4. Take back our town centres - let communities close pubs and clubs that cause trouble
  • 5. Make sentences mean what they say - life should mean life

For more detail see :- http://www.davidgoodall.org.uk/pages/fivesteps.html

Despite the fact that some of the headlines are sensationalist to sell the newspaper crime is a real and big issue in Britain today. Liberal Democrats are often portrayed by our opponents as "soft on crime". In Labour and Tory crime book the idea on crime is to talk tough and do little. This has never been the case in the Liberal Democrats as anyone who reads our policies will know. Liberal Democrats believe in being effective, practical and sensible when it comes to tackling crime. So we have taken the lead in proposing real action to cut crime.

It must remembered that during the 18 years of Conservative violent crime rose and during David Cameron time working in the Home Office police numbers fell by 467 officers. And what did Tony promise "to be tough on crime and the cause of crime" well 10 years on and they have certainly talked tough. But today, under Labour, the criminal justice system is a mess, with re-offending up, prisons overflowing and the Home Office is not fit for purpose according to the Home Secretary !!

The real steps that need to be taken to start the country down the road to a safer way of living involve basic practical action on the five area outlined. These five steps are just the start to tackle the problem of crime and receiving justice there are many other others where practical effective Liberal Democrat Policies can make a real difference.

Proposals to reduce the opportunities for crime to occur including:

  • Designing out crime, and providing positive alternatives in areas with anti-social behaviour.
  • Improving security in product design by developing a 'kitemark' security standard.
  • Adding minimum security standards to the licensing regime for multiple occupancy homes.

Proposals to empower local communities and agencies to target high quality early intervention towards groups vulnerable to becoming perpetrators or victims of crime, including:

  • Expanding police intelligence led youth work schemes targeted on high-risk groups.
  • Empowering local communities to tackle anti-social behaviour through Responsible Behaviour Panels where offenders are explaining themselves in front of victims and the community, and agree a programme of restorative justice
  • Issuing guidance on effective use of ASBOs as a last resort.
  • Requiring existing Crime Reduction Partnerships to target resources and provide advice to prevent those who have been victims of crime from being repeatedly victimised.

Proposals to ensure a more effective and responsive Criminal Justice System including:

  • Setting a target of 90 days on average between arrest and trial.
  • The West End Police team studying CCTV footage

    The West End Police team studying CCTV footage

    Halting the closure of local magistrates' courts.
West End PCSOs receive their patrol bike

West End PCSOs receive their patrol bike

This program of effective action on crime is in stark contrast to the Government. This is because today the Liberal Democrats have also revealed that, despite the government's pledges at the last election, there is a shortfall of more than 8,000 community support officers, meaning many areas are not getting the police service they need. At the launch press conference Sir Ming Campbell pledged that the money the Liberal Democrats would save by not introducing ID cards would be put to use correcting this shortfall, and helping to make Britain's streets safer.

In the Hampshire police area which includes Eastleigh, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight the original government promise was to have 539 Police Community Support Officers the reality of Government action is a new target of just 333 officers a near 40% cut in the number of officers.

Commenting on this government policy local Councillor David Goodall said :-

"I thought this government this was supposed to be cutting crime and causes of crime not cut the numbers of Police and cause of crime prevention."

"At least across Eastleigh the Borough Council working in partnership with the Parish and Town Councils has managed to secure some officers by putting extra money into the system, before the government wielded its great Police Community Support Officer axe."

Talking about the need to effectively fight crime former prosecuting barrister and Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ming Campbell said :-

"To fight crime effectively, we don't need to get tougher; we need to get smarter. A liberal approach to crime is an honest approach to crime. It is based on what works rather than what sounds good. It targets the offender rather than the innocent. And it has the courage to engage with the criminal and reform their behaviour. It is not liberal to tolerate intimidation and disorder. So we will empower members of the public to tackle this problem for themselves. It is only by engaging the public, and combining with them to help reclaim our streets and town centres, that we can successfully cut crime."

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